BRINGING THE ACTION: Farmers pursue paradise law suit
BUNDABERG farmers will commence a class action against the Queensland State Government as the fallout over the lowering of Paradise Dam continues.
Marland Law principal Tom Marland made the announcement today coinciding with the premier's visit to Bundaberg.
"With great regret and extreme frustration on behalf of farmers and small business owners in the Bundaberg region, we are formally announcing the launch of the Paradise Dam Class Action," he said.
"Hard working farmers and small business owners have been fighting since September last year to try and get some common sense in relation to the future management of Paradise Dam.
"With Paradise Dam being reduced, so goes with it water security and the reliability that system brings that supports 25 per cent of Australia's fresh produce."
He said they will be alleging the management of the dam has been deficient and that there has been negligence in relation to the lack of repair work done after the 2013 floods.
"We also consider there's been deceptive and misleading conduct in the management of the dam since works were undertaken in 2013, by the nature of the continuing to sell water from the dam with knowledge there would be a risk of the dam would one day have to be reduced," he said.
"We consider steps should have been taken after 2013 to remediate the dam and preserve water security for the region, that didn't happen and now we are here today."
Mr Marland said they had been trying to negotiate with the government over several months.
"The only way now we have to protect our business interests and to protect our community is to have this matter referred as a class action," he said.
"As a result of Paradise Dam there has been hundreds of millions of dollars in investment and billions of dollars of production that have been built in the Bundaberg region and those losses need to be recouped.
"We don't want to be here today, all we want is the dam to be restored but unfortunately where we are at this junction is the dam is being reduced and losses are being incurred."
Local macadamia farmer Michael McMahon said it was disappointing that their efforts had fallen on deaf ears.
He said he had recently reinvested in the area on the back of the water security the dam offered.
"It's our production in the future we're concerned about and our access and reliability of supply is concerning us," he said.
"We're relooking at our business model and whether we have plans to continue to invest in the region."
He said he never thought he'd see the day where he'd be involved in a class action against the government.
"We've got much better things to be doing as business people and farmers to be focusing on, this has been a long drawn out process and unfortunately there's still plenty more to go," he said.
"I'd much rather be focusing our efforts and energies on doing what we do best and that's farming and growing food for the nation and the world."
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said keeping residents safe was her top priority.
"When we were given advice that the dam needed to be lowered, it happened, my understanding is that it's at around 40 per cent at the moment - this is about keeping the residents of Bundaberg safe," she said.
"It would be disappointing to see if people want to hold up works that need to happen to continue to keep the community safe.
"We will only restore the water to a level that it is safe to do so, so the works need to happen, we want to get on with the job to protect the community.
"There is nothing more important to me than the safety of our communities."